Though the NFL reportedly repeatedly told clubs not to use the 2010 uncapped season as an opportunity to dump contracts and salary during that time, two teams in particular didn't listen: the Cowboys and Redskins.
According to multiple reports, the league has docked the clubs by taking money from them off the salary cap: $36 million for the Redskins and $10 million for Dallas. The reduction can be spread over the 2012 and '13 seasons in any way the teams choose.
The NFL Players Association insisted that the funds go back into the player-payment pool, meaning that 28 teams will each split the money and get an additional $1.6 million tacked onto their cap amount this year. (The Raiders and Saints were also found to have taken advantage of the uncapped situation in '10 but not to the extent that Washington and Dallas did, thus they won't lose money or gain money.)
For the Patriots, that means they now have approximately $17.8 million in salary cap space heading into free agency, which opens Tuesday at 4 p.m.